Mark Doty on Best American Poetry

No one could possibly read all the poetry published in America in one year. You couldn’t find it all!  Mark Doty said recently at Canio’s.  But through a very efficient and fair process established by series editor David Lehman, Doty, this year’s guest editor of Best American Poetry 2012  read thousands of poems and selected 75, every one of which, he claimed, he loved.

He strove to create an anthology that includes poems from different regions around the country, from both large and smaller literary publications, diverse in  gender, ethnicity, and poetic styles.An exciting, engaging and sometimes challenging collection has emerged from this patient, attentive editorial effort.   Mark  presented a few of his faves to an appreciative audience. We heard wonderful poems by Alicia Ostriker,  Honor Moore, Kerrin McCadden, Richard Howard, Carol Muske- Dukes and Lucia Perillo among others.

Poetry is a report on the senses, what we see and hear, what we think, and it arrives at some emotion, Doty explained. He hopes to be swept up, compelled by a poem.  And while reading vast numbers of poems, he endeavored to keep an open mind, to ask of the poem, “where does this take me?”

The best poetry takes us to unexpected places, places at once strange, yet somehow recognizable.

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